Told that this seafood specialist deserves a place in the guide, so here I sit, waiting for my dinner companion. Plumstead is not an area that I often get to, but La Grotto is clearly popular with locals, tables calling the waitress by name. It’s a big room, not a grotto but a hall, with a smoking alcove at the back leading into the kitchen you walk through to the bathrooms. Tables in blue and white cheque, wooden chairs, nautical paraphenalia on the walls, all looking more like it belongs to an old fishing town (almost like a John Steinbeck local). The waiter is very urbane and is clearly not doing this to pay his varsity fees. The wine list, with its small selection of corporate wines was the first hint of the style of the food – dated, but at the prices, welcome value. The seafood platter (R89) is generous and well-cooked (except for previously frozen, now floury, prawns) and featured little touches like a marinara for the mussels and pieces of hake in good batter. Chips weren’t fresh and crisp though. M’s grilled calamari fine, his fish soup good, my snails tender and appropriately slathered in buttery garlic – and not in those snail ramekins but a comforting bowl. I’d be back if I lived in the area, but go when they’re busy for improved ambience.
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La Grotto, Plumstead
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